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Since the early 1990s, access to worldwide-created information and possibilities for world-wide communication have become easier and easier - at least in the Western world. Google, Wikipedia, social networks, blogs and countless contributors around the globe have made it possible for practically everyone to find different information or views and opinions on countless topics over the internet for hardly any price. Furthermore, suddenly it was possible to communicate almost cost-free with virtually everyone around the globe due to low telecommunication costs and the rapidly increasing coverage of mobile networks.

In this "age of information", the gaps between developed and less-developed countries do not only consist of the large differences in infrastructure and society, but also in the difficulties for developing countries to get access to these means of information and communication, which in fact are freely available. Since information today is seen as one of the major drivers of economic and social development, there is the fear that these already discriminated countries will be left even further behind. The term "digital divide" denotes exactly this development: the differences and unbalances between developed, less-developed and developing countries in their use of advanced technology.

On the other hand, contemporary technologies are seen as enablers for economic and social change in these less-developed countries and are even believed to be catalysts to leapfrog the former industrial revolution, immediately providing less developed countries with the possibility to catch up with the Western world.

Therefore, many initiatives of the international IT as well as economic community focus on providing less developed countries with access to modern information and communication technologies and train their inhabitants to use and adapt them for their purposes.

This approach is called "Information and Communication Technologies for Development" (ICT4D).



 
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